Monday, 23 February 2015

Monday 23rd February - Wrapping Up

I'm back home now after an uneventful last day. The weather on Saturday was properly stormy with a great looking sea on view at Pendeen. We however had to soldier on with shutting down the cottage. The only bird news of note was that I saw the pair of Choughs again down by the cliffs as I was packing the car.

Now that I'm back home I've had time to edit some of the video footage that I shot which I've included below. I've also added a micro moth that I found in the boot of the car which flew out in Sainsbury's car park.

The Gulval Little Bunting

The Swanpool Ring-billed Gull

Looking back on the week it was quite a hard one from the point of view of the DIY work that we had to do and also from the fact that most of us got ill. However the birding was good and I came away with four shiny new Cornish ticks for my troubles which was probably as good as I could have hoped for. Apart from the elusive possible AHG's the only birds that I never got a chance to try for were the American Wigeon either at Kingsmill or the Gannel Estuary. I'm going to have to come back again in a few weeks to check on the work that our various tradesmen have done and to finish off the touching up of the decorating work so with any luck there will be more to report in the next few weeks.

Car park moth - I think it's Agonopterix heracliana

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Friday 20th February: Hayle & Marazion

Today the forecast was actually not too bad. The original one for a very stormy finish to the week had changed and it was now only on Saturday that the strong winds were due to arrive. The plan today was to finish off the outstanding DIY tasks and then to have our usual outing in the afternoon. I pointed out that we had some stuff to take to the dump at St Erth and suggested that I combine this trip with a spot of birding at Hayle as it was so close. I busied myself finishing some painting work that I had outstanding and then late morning I set off with a car full of stuff (mostly a huge piece of cardboard that the chaise longue came in. It didn't take long to dump all this stuff at St Erth and the next stop was the bridge by the Hayle estuary where it was almost at low tide. Before I came down this week I'd envisioned that after quickly mopping up the local goodies (namely Little Bunting, King Eider and Mandarin Duck) that I would spend much of my birding time down at Hayle looking for the elusive 1w Hayle Ring-billed Gull (that was before the Swanpool one turned up) as well as the possible American Herring Gull that was knocking about. As it had transpired however, it wasn't until my last day that I finally was getting to go to this site which was a shame as I always enjoy looking through the large numbers of birds that are to be found here.

The light was good and the wind wasn't too bad as I had a good scan through all the birds. On the wader front it was the usual Redshanks with a few Curlew, a single Oystercatcher and in the distance Greenshank and two Bar-tailed Godwits. As far as ducks went, it was just the usual Wigeon and Teal with a few Shelduck. But it was Gulls that I was really here for and there were plenty of those: more than a thousand LBBG's (counted by ME who's been doing the estuary frequently this week) and a good number of HG's. Looking through the latter I couldn't find anything that would suggest AHG though there was a darker winged bird that I grilled for possible YLG though there was too much white on the apical spots, the primary projections was too short and the wing colour didn't look right either (though it was hard to judge in the bright sun light). Probably an argentatus I presumed and ME later reported one there that day. I must admit that I find it rather weird that argentatus is such a rarity down here - back in Oxon we get loads of them as well as daily sightings of YLG and a good number Caspians each winter.

Flowering Winter Heliotrope by the road side at the bridge
After that I moved on to Copperhouse Creek where there was supposed to be a Water Pipit in residence. I wasn't particularly bothered about seeing it though it would be a nice if I happened to come across it. I curb crawled along the King George V Memorial Walk and was rewarded with a Grey Plover, two Greenshanks and two Black-tailed Godwits for my troubles plus the usual Redshanks and Gulls. Then it was time to head back home, stopping in at M&S en route to pick up a few provisions.

Copperhouse Creek Greenshank
Back home the rest of the family were rather hungry so we had lunch and then discussed what to do. They seemed to want to get out right away as they'd been working away whilst I'd been on my extended dump run. So a plan was hatched to head over to Marazion to go over to the Mount for a cream tea and we duly set off. We parked up by the charity car park and ambled along the beach to the causeway. I love wandering along here especially when the tide is in as all the Pipits and Wagtails hang out along the high tide line and it's always fun to rummage through them for something good. Today it was just the usual Pied Wagtails, Meadow and Rock Pipits but it was nice to see them all.

Rock Pipit
We arrived to find that we'd just missed the last boat over so instead decided to head up to Delicious, the café further up the hill which we'd only discovered last October. Thankfully it was still open and a splendid cream tea was enjoyed by all.

On the way back my VLW and B wanted to browse the galleries so L and I explored the alleyways that lead down to the sea from that side of town. Here you could get a nice view of Little London where you often get some divers hanging out though I couldn't see any today. I did manage to find a couple of Med Gulls though - an adult and a 1w hanging out with a dozen or so Black-headeds just east of the causeway. There's something very appealing about Med Gulls and I always like seeing them.

Marazion Med Gull

The light was fading as we ambled back along the beach and I spent an enjoyable time scanning the bay with my bins whilst L frolicked in the sand, turning up a close-in Great Northern Diver for my troubles. Then it was time to head back to the cottage to finish off our final chores and to start thinking about our departure tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thursday 19th February: Drift

Thankfully I managed to get a good night's sleep last night and woke up feeling much more my usual self. According to the weather forecast it was going to be strong winds and rain for the next few days and this indeed was how it started out. Therefore we decided to spend the day doing some interior work. My first task was to try and get our internet connection sorted. Daily readers will have noticed the lack of updates here over the last few days: this is because we've had not proper internet connection at all. I'd made a couple of calls to the technical support team to be told that I needed a new "filter" that splits the signal between the phone and the ADSL and that they would post one out to me. That was on Monday and it was now Thursday with still no filter so I gave them another call. They assured me that the filter had been dispatched but that it could take up to five working days. What I came to realise however was that whenever I was on the phone talking to them the internet suddenly started working but as soon as the call was finished it stopped again. Could this be a clue? I tried calling up our home phone number and playing music down the line to our answer phone in order to keep the line open. Bingo - the internet started working again! That did indeed sound like something that a new filter might sort out but in the mean time I could at least finally post some photos to my blog, albeit in a rather expensive way that reminded me of the bad old dial-up days. Amazingly enough, at that moment the postman appeared with a parcel containing our new filter and when we tried it the internet was back again without having to make a phone call at the same time.

After that triumph it was on to more mundane matters with some cleaning and painting work to be done. Mid afternoon and the weather was certainly looking brighter: in fact the forecast was now for much calmer conditions over the next couple of days with the strong winds now not arriving until Saturday. We decided to venture forth. I proposed a trip to Penzance so my VLW could pick up a few items that we needed for the cottage whilst I nipped over to Drift Reservoir to have another crack at my arch nemesis the Drift Mandarin. I therefore dropped the rest of the family off at the top of Market Jew Street and I headed off towards the reservoir as the sky started to darken and the rain came down again. I'd been thinking of walking all the way down to the north bank in the western arm to see if I could find it hiding under the trees on that bank but with it now raining rather heavily I wasn't exactly relishing the prospect. The things we do for birding!

I pulled up in the car park to see a gaggle of Mallards standing in the driveway of the house by the reservoir. Apparently the owner there normally feeds the ducks which is why they usually hang out on the water next to his house. From where I was sitting in the car I could see his garage door was open and several ducks were in there gobbling down duck food from some large sacks that were lying on the floor there - what cheeky so and so's! Could the Mandarin be in amongst them? I had a scan and sure enough there he was. In fact he seemed to be the ring leader: the ducks were like naughty children who knew that they should be in there but couldn't resist. They'd get scared and waddle away but then would waddle back for another go. The Mandarin was always the last to leave and the first to head back in there. It was all very comical!

The ring leader Mandarin
Having achieved my target so quickly from the shelter of the car without having had to get wet at all I decided to quit whilst I was ahead and called up the rest of the family. We arranged to rendezvous at at a café there and some ten minutes later we were enjoying a nice cup of tea and some cake before heading back to the cottage. It had been a productive day with yet another Cornish tick achieved.

Wednesday 18th February: Maenporth & Swanpool

Having looked at the forecast I knew that the weather was going to get very windy from tomorrow onwards and that today was going to be the last good day. Readers may have noticed a distinct lack of me chasing after my target bird list for this week and I felt that it was time that I made amends. In particular I wanted to see the King Eider over at Maenporth – a really rare species for Cornwall that I would really like to have on my county list. So the previous evening I’d floated the idea of dropping the rest of the family off at Lelant Saltings so they could catch the train to St. Ives for a spot of shopping whilst I headed over to Falmouth to try and catch up with the Eider.

Things didn’t start very well: I woke up at just after 3 a.m. feeling a bit strange and I couldn’t really get back to sleep again after that despite a generous glass of whisky for medicinal purposes. I was still feeling rather unwell the next morning and almost threw up in the kitchen sink ten minutes before an electrician was due to come around to chat about the work that we needed done. I managed to pull it together for the interview and they seemed to know what they were talking about so we’ll probably give them the job as long as the quote comes back OK.

My VLW asked me if I felt well enough to carry on with our plan for today - I knew that this was going to be my last chance for the week so I steeled myself for what might be a day of endurance birding and answered in the affirmative. Thus it was that around 10:30 a.m. I dropped the rest of the family off at Lelant Saltings and then pointed the Gnome Mobile west towards Falmouth. I didn’t really feel up to eating at all so I bought a couple of bottles of Lucozade to keep me going and took it nice and slow. Thanks to the trusty Sat Nav I arrived about an hour later at the pretty sandy beach at Maenporth and tooled up. Slowly I wandered up the coast path to the south of the beach and prepared to work my way along the coast. According to reports, the bird was usually hanging out with a female Eider often at Bream Cove which was over towards Rosemullion Head though it had been seen just south of the beach on the last couple of days. I therefore gave the area a good grilling when I got up to the first vantage point though the only birds that I could see were Shags. Conditions were great for viewing though: whilst the forecast was for a bit more wind, it was in a south westerly direction and over here on the east coast the sea was lovely and flat and the light was good with a bit of cloud preventing too much glare.

Having had no luck at the first viewing point I made my way (rather slowly given my lack of energy) southwards along the coast, stopping to scan at every vantage point. The scenery was quite pretty though with none of the wild beauty that you get down in the far south west. Eventually I arrived at Bream Cove where I found a couple of Slavonian Grebes and then joy of joys I spotted a duck on a rock! A quick look through the scope and there was the female Eider. However, there was no sign of it’s rare companion. At this point another birder turned up: MB from Devon down for the day with a son and large dog in tow. We got chatting and it turned out that he and three other Devon birders had been scouring the area for about an hour and a half with no luck at all. Things were starting to look rather bleak and my heart sank: I’d made all this effort to get out there when I really should be tucked up in bed and I wasn’t even going to see the bird after all. It had done a bunk a couple of weeks ago, disappearing for a while before it came back to the same area again but it was most unlucky for this to have happened on the one day that I’d been free. That is birding though. The others were ready to give up: they’d had a rather disappointing day so far having dipped the American Wigeon at Plymouth and now the King Eider as well. The other three were going to go on to the Little Bunting at Penzance and MB was going to go to Swanpool for the Ring-billed Gull. I’d mentally pencilled in a stop-off at Swanpool myself so I quizzed him about where to go: half way down the east side by the benches apparently. We all made our way back along the coast, stopping off for a scan where possible though in my weakened state I soon lagged behind.

At the last viewing point I caught up with MB having a final scan with the other three having already headed off back to the car. As this was the spot where it had been seen most often over the last couple of days I resolved to give it a final go before admitting defeat. MB found a pair of adult Med Gulls on the sea and there were a few Shags about. We started looking over the far side of the bay to the north of the beach but it was all deserted and it seemed hopeless. A quick final scan out over the sea itself with my bins and I spotted something bobbing up and down at some distance – thank heavens the sea was so flat you could see for a long way. I got my scope on it and low and behold there it was, the King Eider in all its loveliness. I told MB that I had it and he manged to get on it as well. He then made a frantic phone call to his friends to come back. Apparently they were just about to turn the ignition key to head off when the call came through and they raced back. They were all very grateful to me for having found the bird and I reflected that there’s nothing quite so gratifying as a last gasp success – one really feels that one’s earned the tick. I spent a while trying to video the bird but it was so far away that it was little more than a “record vid”. Still one could see all the salient features including the prominent yellow bill and forehead patch that the males of the species have. With time marching on I headed back towards the car, saying good bye to my grateful birding companions though MB soon followed behind me. On the way back I spotted a pair of Stonechats working their way over the grassy field next to the coastal path.

By far the best photo of the Maenporth King Eider that I've seen, "borrowed" from the CBWPS web-site and originally taken by John St. Ledger (c), presumably at much closer range than I saw it!
Back at the car I set the Sat Nav for Swanpool and headed off, noting MB’s car following behind me – he was still keen on checking out the Ring-billed Gull himself. It was only a few minutes away and I duly parked up on the east side of the 500m long pool near some other cars. I could seen MB park up ahead of me by the benches and by the time I’d got my gear together he was already on the bird! In fact it was so ridiculously close that you could literally tick it without getting out of the car if you were parked by the bench. Someone had been feeding bread to the gulls and it was the closest gull there, swimming up and down no more than 10 or 15 yards away. What a complete contrast from the King Eider!

I sat on the bench and busied myself with some photos and video using my trusty superzoom camera. The birds were all very tame here: a couple of coots were foraging in the reeds not more than two metres from where I was sitting. MB managed to find an adult Med Gull up near the north end. After a while he headed off to the top to see if he could find the Long-tailed Duck whereas I stayed put in order to admire the RBG. I’m always keen to see this species as it’s one that I’d love to find on my home patch at Port Meadow. The trouble is, as a relatively inexperienced birder, I only have limited experience with them so I like to take every opportunity to see them when I can. I’d seen the annual adult Gosport bird a couple of times and now here was a chance to see a first winter bird. The classic confusion species is supposed to be Common Gull though there was no way that this bird could be confused with one: it was a big hulking brute by comparison to a dainty Common with much thicker bill more curved on the upper bill than the lower (Common Gull of course have the thin more symmetrically curved bill) and pale grey mantle and coverts complete with brown flecks on the scaps. To my mind the main confusion species was going to be with a 2w Herring Gull though it was of course noticeably smaller and it’s plain tertials and less chequered coverts told it was for what it was.

The confiding 1w Ring-billed Gull
Having had my fill of the bird, I sent a text to the St. Ives party saying that I was going to head back to rendezvous with them. They replied that they were more or less done anyway and would meet me back at the Leisure Centre car park in about three quarters of an hour. I got back into the Gnome Mobile and decided to follow the Sat Nav which wanted to take me cross country back to the A30. This turned out to be a bad idea as there were road works in Falmouth itself and then I got stuck behind two oil tankers so I ended up arriving about fifteen minutes late.

The others had had a good time: L had bought some trinkets, they’d had pasties for lunch though B was feeling distinctly under the weather. She’d come down with my VLW’s cold and probably should have stayed in bed. What a bunch of invalids we were – only L was his usual self! Anyway, we headed back to PZ where we nipped into Sainsbury’s for some shopping before heading back to the cottage. There I had a bowl of soup (my first meal of the day) and I retired to my bed to recuperate. Whilst resting I reflected on my successful day out birding: I’d managed to get two Cornish ticks (I’d needed the RGB as well for the county), one of which had been very hard won and one had been ridiculously easy. Birding - it's a funny old game!

Tuesday 17th February: Pendeen

The weather forecast for today was for sunny weather with little wind so we decided that today I would finish off the exterior paint work that I’d started. Thus it was that I was soon back outside working away at the black masonry paint. Once again I managed to see the pair of Chough flying about and making their distinctive calls. In addition for the Pendeen day list I saw: 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk (unusual for around here) and a handful of finches in the horse paddock next to our house.

Daughter B found this baby Palmate Newt under a rock
I soon finished my painting task and moved inside to warm up (to be honest I was feeling a bit under the weather and being outside in what was still quite nippy conditions in February wasn’t helping). We pottered about doing various tasks, trying to get the place ship-shape for the coming season. At around midday we had a chaise longe delivered: our upstairs lounge is very small and we keep trying to come up with a furniture configuration that works there, this being our latest attempt.

Singing Pendeen Dunnock
At around 3pm we’d all had enough and decided that we should go out. With a plumber due to come round at around 5:30 we couldn’t go far so we opted for a local walk. I was just hanging around outside waiting for the others to get ready when I heard a bird call. Interesting I thought, that sounds a bit like a Wren though definitely not one. I did some exploratory pishing (not expecting it to work) and a small brown bird popped up, worked it’s way past me at no more than 2m distance and was gone again in an instant. I tried to put together what I’d seen – I could have sworn that it was a small brown phyllosc but I’d only actually seen it for a moment. The call was intriguing though. Hurriedly I navigated to Xeno Canto on my phone and played through some Radde’s Warbler calls. There was one which sounded pretty close and when I played it I even heard a single call in reponse from deep within the undergrowth. Could it really be one at this time of year? I gave Dave Parker a call telling him what I’d seen and heard though he was off up at the Roseland Peninsula so wasn’t going to be able to come over and check it out. Meanwhile my family was finally ready and I told them that I would catch them up. I wandered around the garden the best I could (it’s very overgrown) but the only birds I could find were two Goldfinches and a Wren. In the end I settled down to stake out the spot where I’d last seen it and waited. Time passed and my family returned from the walk and I’d still not seen anything further. Eventually I spotted something skulking in the undergrowth and it even passed right by me in the same spot as before. This time I could see it clearly and it was of course a Wren after all. Doh! A classic schoolboy error though I could have sworn that the call was different and that I’d seen a phyllosc the first time. It just goes to show how careful you have to be on a brief view of a skulking bird. One to chalk up to experience! I sent Dave Parker a “false alarm” text and went inside for a cup of tea. The plumber came round, he was very good and we hired him on the spot to sort out our rather strange plumbing that we have in the cottage.

Monday 16th Pendeen & Penzance

In stark contrast to yesterday, today’s forecast was for quite strong north easterly winds and this indeed what materialised though in practice they started off only moderately strong and strengthened throughout the day. I was woken up at 7 am by our 8 year old son L coming to the bedroom for some reason. Today we had the first of several electricians coming round to discuss some work that we were needing to be done to the cottage and with this meeting arranged for 9:30 a.m. I didn’t really have time for a proper outing so instead I opted to spend half an hour down at the lighthouse to see if I could spot anything interesting on the sea. As to be expected for February there wasn’t much of note but at least I managed to year tick the commoner species as a moderate passage of Gannets, Kittiwakes, Auks and a few Fulmars went by. The highlight was a Black-throated Diver which settled briefly on the sea before flying off.

Back at the cottage after having the meeting with the electrician, because of the wind we opted for doing some internal chores. Thus we spent a busy morning putting up some shelves and two pictures and attaching some felt pads to the underside of the bed legs so that they didn’t scrape the floor when moved. After that it was time to head over to Penzance for some shopping. Firstly we went to B&Q to stock up on some DIY essentials, then it was time to grab some lunch and given how hungry we all were in the end we just nipped into Sainsbury’s to have something hot at the café.

With some hot food inside us it was time to head into Penzance. My VLW and our younger daughter B wanted to do some girly shopping so myself and L headed over to the bus station so I could gaze at the sea and he could clamber about on the rocks pretending to do parcour (though he’s too scared actually to try anything thankfully). The main target for me was of course the over-wintering Pacific Diver – I thought that it would be rude of me not to take a look at some point this week seeing as I was down here. It was nice and sunny now and viewing from the bus station the sun was perfectly positioned behind me. However the strong wind was almost directly in my face which made for rather difficult viewing conditions. I scanned about and thought that I caught a brief glimpse of it in amongst half a dozen or so Great-northern Divers but I couldn’t say for certain and all the divers were actively hunting and were only ever up for a few seconds at a time. To give my eyes a break from peering at small distant blobs into the teeth of the wind I spent some time trying to digiscope the smart drake Eider that was swimming about about 200 yards off-shore. I managed a few shots that looked OK on the back of the camera at least and then decided on another crack at the Pacific Diver. 

The smart Drake Eider
Suddenly everything came right at once: there was a lull in the wind, the sun was out again and an interesting looking Diver stayed above the surface for a reasonable length of time and Bingo – there it was! It was a smart looking bird with a distinctly stubby bill compared to all the GND’s; it seemed to be hanging out with a Black-throated Diver. Relieved at having seen it in the end I decided that it was time to get out of the cold and L and I hurried back to the shelter and relative warmth of the car. We then gave the other party a quick call to say that we were done and a short time later we rendezvous’d with them over by Jubilee Pool.

The last task of the day was to head back to Sainsbury’s for some food shopping and then it was back to the cottage. I managed to blag a brief detour to Drift Reservoir car park to see if the Mandarin Duck was about (I’d been assured by Tony Mills that the car park area was indeed its usual haunt) but the strong wind was barrelling down the length of the reservoir and there was understandably no sign of any birds in this exposed area. There was no point in hanging around and I got straight back into the car and we hurried home to the warmth of the cottage where we enjoyed a good meal and then settled down for the evening.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Sunday 15th February: Gulval, Drift & Pendeen

Today we arranged that whilst my VLW would sleep in I would get up early and get some birding done in and around Penzance before doing some more extensive food shopping and then coming back.. The rest of the day was ear-marked for various DIY tasks though we might venture out late afternoon should there be time. That was the plan and that’s more or less what happened.

I didn’t sleep that well - partly as I was woken by a Tawny Owl calling near the house. I don’t quite understand why they should be around here as there’s no woodland to speak of. I finally got back to sleep again though I awoke too early at 6:15 and was out of the house shortly after 7 a.m.  It had been a wonderfully sunny day yesterday but it had been a clear night and consequently it was a frosty start as I sped on the deserted roads over the hill towards Penzance. From my list of target species I decided to start off  with the Little Bunting at Gulval as this species was hard to get down in Cornwall. After that I thought that I’d try the Mandarin duck at Drift which should be fairly straight-forward should it still be around.

I’d been given detailed instructions by Dave Parker on where to go and so at around 7:30 a.m. I found somewhere safe to park the Gnome mobile, got my gear together and walked the few yards to the start of the footpath where three stone steps lead up to a weedy corner of a field. Here I’d been told the Bunting liked to hang out with a bunch of Chaffinches and that it could often be seen in a Blackthorn Tree to the right of the field. I was the only person there and as I arrived a number of Chaffinches flew up from the field into the surrounding bushes. I started to scan through them and then soon noticed what must be “the” Blackthorn Tree and sure enough there was the bird sitting on its own in the middle of it. It was most distinctive with it’s well marked crown stripe and detailed head markings. I busied myself with taking some photos and video though as it had only just got light and the sun hadn’t yet reached the field it was still rather dark and I had to resort to ISO 1600 to get any kind of shutter speed at all.

The Little Bunting
Shortly after this a birder from Plymouth (called Tony) turned up with a bag of seed. He managed to see the Bunting though after a short time it flew off with the Chaffinches to the far end of the field. I put the news out on RBA and as we waited for it to return other birders started to turn up though BM was the only one I recognised. Time marched on and the bird didn’t come back and I was starting to get a bit cold standing there. At around 8:45 having spent a little over an hour there I decided to move on. After all I’d already seen the bird well and I only had limited time before I was due back at the cottage. So I left the others to it and hurried back to the car in order to get warm.

My next stop was Drift Reservoir for what should be a straight-forward visit to find the Mandarin Duck. I parked up and headed down the slope towards the reservoir. Normally I would expect there to be a large mixed flock of ducks all hanging out by the gate near the car park and this was indeed where I was expecting the Mandarin to be. However, the place was almost completely deserted with just a couple of Mallards lurking by the bank to be seen. Oh well, perhaps it was further around I thought and  resolved to walk around to the hide to see if I could find it. It was still frosty as I yomped along the bank though the water itself was remarkably deserted with just a handful of gulls in the centre to be seen and a couple of Goldeneye on the far bank. Over by the hide I could see into the western arm and here I found a few Tufted Duck and a single male Pochard (which I checked carefully to rule out Canvasback and Redhead). A couple of Gadwall, 4 Wigeon and few other bits and bobs could be seen but it was all depressingly deserted. I wandered part way around the western arm with just a Chiffy as a reward and then decided to head back to the car, defeated in my Mandarin search. Still, the sun had finally broken out and it was now lovely and warm and one out of two on my target list wasn’t too bad a start.

Drift Tufties
I arranged for my VLW to text me a shopping list and was soon in PZ picking up our provisions for the day before heading my way back over the hill to Pendeen. Then it was time for a welcome cup of tea and to crack on with the day’s chores. As the weather was so sunny and calm I decided to do some exterior paint work which is always nice as there’s a chance of hearing or seeing something on the bird front. Sure enough I soon heard some Chough calling and eventually located a pair in a field to the west of the house. The sun even brought out my first butterfly of the year with a Peacock fluttering by and I even saw a Bee of some species. I made steady progress though as the day progressed it got chillier but I wanted to get the first coat of all the black masonry paint on today so I steeled myself to get it finished. By the end I was really cold and had to have a really hot bath to warm up again. Then it was time for dinner and a chance to veg out in front of the telly.

Saturday 14th February: Coming Down

I’m back down in my beloved Cornwall for a week en famille as it’s the half term holiday. Usually when I’m down at this time of year there isn’t much that I want to see but amazingly this time there were quite a few birds about that I need for my Cornwall list so I was keen to come down. To be specific, my target birds are: the Little  Bunting at Gulval, the Mandarin Duck at Drift, the Ring-billed Gull and possible American Herring Gull at Hayle, the King Eider at Maenporth, the American Wigeon (either near Newlyn or at Kingsmill near Plymouth) and the Bearded Tit at Marazion. In addition I was going to have a try for Jack Snipe (which I still need) just in case I could find one at a location I’d been told about. So plenty of things to chase after with varying chances of success and opportunity.

Our journey down yesterday was uneventful. Had it been me coming down on my own I’d have been off at first light and would have stopped off en route for the American Wigeon at  Kingsmill but instead we left late morning (the general inertia of getting four people ready to depart) and stopped off at Ikea in Bristol to pick up some items for the Cottage. This meant that we didn’t arrive until after dark so there was no chance to sneak in a cheeky twitch. Instead we did a spot of food shopping, got the cottage booted up and spent the evening inspecting the house to see what chores were going to need to be done. As I’ve said before, it’s always a bit of a busman’s holiday coming down to the cottage but just being back down here makes it all worth while.

I’d not brought my moth trap down with me but I did manage to find a few months dotted about the house. I think that they are Parsnip Moths though without my micro book and with several similar looking Depressaria species I’ll have to wait until I get home before ID’ing it.

Parsnip Moth?